If you follow sports at all – and even if you don’t – you’ve heard about the debacle that is the replacement referees for the NFL. It has grown into the story….scratch that…THE STORY of the league at this point, which is an amazing development. The league has been playing Russian Roulette for a while, and finally someone lost.
I’m talking about the Green Bay Packers, but I could be talking about the Patriots, Ravens, Vikings, Redskins. The list is long…and getting longer.
Due to personal allegiances, I found the performance by the officials more abhorrent in the Sunday night game between the Patriots and Ravens. When Charles Pierce asked in his column immediately following that debacle – “Was Sunday night’s Patriots-Ravens game the lowest moment of the NFL ref lockout?” – I thought it was a softball question.
Then this happened…
…24 hours later.
So of course, the league is considering firing these officials. Maybe they’re finally adhering to the same standards as the Lingerie Football League, who apparently fired multiple officials who worked in the NFL on Sunday. I guess that means that there would be an opening for me to moonlighting as a ref this year. I’m available on Sundays and Mondays, but will have to check my schedule for Thursdays.
That being said, if the NFL thinks that they can convince me that firing a couple of refs will change this situation, they must take me for a fool. I don’t even blame the refs. They are in an impossible position. It reminds me of when I was a student and we got a substitute teacher. The teacher wasn’t prepared, was sitting on his or her couch yesterday, wasn’t really supported by the principal…and everyone knew it. The principal knew it, but knew they didn’t really have another choice. The students knew it and definitely pushed the boundaries of what we could get away with in the class. And the teacher knew it…it was temporary and the misery would eventually end. And once we had pushed our substitute teacher far enough, she yelled, “You guys don’t belong in a classroom, you belong in cages!” as she stormed out and the entire class was written up.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the exact same thing that is happening with the replacement refs. The principal (Roger Goodell) knows these guys aren’t up to the job. The students (the players and coaches) are pushing the boundaries since they know that their teachers (the refs) don’t have control of the classroom. And the teachers are way over their head, trying to do the best they can, but ultimately are writing up the entire class – how else to explain the randomness of 24 penalties called in back to back nationally televised games?
The big differences here, of course, are that Goodell has a choice and that the players and coaches are literally begging for the real teachers back. The hilarious and mega-viral tweets by Brandon Spikes and TJ Lang on consecutive nights, nor the irateness of coaches like Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh or Kyle Shanahan are isolated incidents of frustration which the rest of the league doesn’t feel. And they have every right to be incensed. Unlike when I was a student, I enjoyed the freedom to act a fool in class for a day or two. But these guys have devoted their entire life to becoming experts at their craft, have forgotten more about football than the replacement refs will ever be able to learn, and are essentially being told by the refs to STFU while we make egregious mistakes. It’s like me going around to different brain surgeons while they are in the ER and starting off with: “Let me tell you what I think…”
I’m not sure where this ends or how it does…but I’m excited for my chance to compete in the upcoming American Idol style audition the NFL should be conducting in the upcoming week.
I guess I should get to erasing my Patriot’s related tweets and status updates now…